The cost-of-living crisis, which dominated headlines last year, has gradually been replaced by newer developments in the news cycle, but millions are still being affected, as evidenced the Joseph Rowntree Foundation State of Poverty report, published today.
The report shows, that for those particularly affected, the cost-of-living crisis has been raging for well over a decade. Prices remain persistently higher than wages or benefits, and people are still unable to afford the basic essentials. The report highlights that families claiming income-related benefits are facing particularly high levels of poverty, because “benefit levels are frequently not sufficient to enable recipients to escape poverty. Indeed, the basic rate of Universal Credit is even below destitution thresholds.”
Our social security system was set up to support people when they need it.
However, social security benefit levels have been eroded over time, and it is estimated that 90 percent of low-income households on Universal Credit are currently going without essentials.
Inadequate social security is also the main driver of food bank need, which has exploded, with a massive 1.5 million emergency food parcels being provided by the UK’s food bank network between April and September 2023. This includes a record 540,000 food parcels for children living in families and 320,000 people who have needed to use a food bank for the first time in the past 6 months.
The social security system should support everyone, especially those who need it most.
It is time we recognised social security in our domestic laws as a fundamental human right. This would mean future UK Governments would have to set social security levels, so people had enough to live on.
We support the Essentials Guarantee campaign, which calls on the UK Government to provide, with a guarantee in law, a level of support from Universal Credit which would cover the basic requirements all people need to live in dignity.
The Essentials Guarantee would, by ensuring that benefit levels are set to an acceptable level, bring the UK Government more closely into line with its commitments under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which it ratified in 1976.
These rights include everyday necessities for people, including having an adequate standard of living, housing, food, education, health and social security.
We urge the UK Government to promote the human rights of people across the country. The social security system must be reformed so that it can provide people with the rights they are entitled to, helping make sure they have a dignified life and a fairer, stronger UK for all of us.
Be part of the movement for change: